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Nestled into the stunning Sierra Nevada mountain range is the largest alpine lake in North America. Lake Tahoe is both beautiful to observe and incredibly entertaining to explore. With incredible lengths of coastline, including sloped sandy beaches, eye-catching rock formations, and the magical collection of wildlife that calls Lake Tahoe home.

Travelers looking to enjoy the waters and beaches of Lake Tahoe should check out Sand Harbor on the lake's northeastern shore. This little jut of land is incredibly popular and brings waves of travelers to Incline, Nevada, every year. This destination is popular for a reason, and those fortunate to experience Sand Harbor for themselves will understand why.

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One look at the cobalt blue waters of Lake Tahoe, and travelers will understand why it is so special. Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America, sitting comfortably nestled into the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The eastern shore of the lake is where travelers tend to flock to. Its sloping beaches, clear water, and aesthetic rock formations make this a popular destination for travelers.

On the northeastern shore, travelers can discover Sand Harbor. This sandy peninsula juts out into the lake and offers visitors a popular destination for swimming and other beachside activities. The beaches here are so popular that travelers better wake up early or risk missing out on enjoying them.

  • Hours - 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Entrance Fees - $10.00 ($15.00 for Non-NV Vehicles)
  • Contact Us - 775-831-0494, shsp@parks.nv.gov
  • Mailing Address - P.O. Box 6116 Incline Village, NV 89452

Kayaking/Stand-up Paddleboarding

Kayaks, sailing kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards are all available for rent at Sand Harbor and are a major draw. Guided tours are also offered to those looking to learn a bit while they adventure.

Related: Palisades Tahoe: What Makes This The Best Ski Resort In California

Hiking and Riding

Those wishing for a quick hike while visiting have several choices. There is the Sand Harbor to Memorial Point trail that serves as a connector between Memorial Point and many secluded beaches. There is Sand Point Nature Trail with its interpretive signs and amazing views of Lake Tahoe. There is also the Tahoe East Shore Trail, which is actually a three-mile paved bikeway that is one of the most stunning places to take a short ride in the US.

  • Sand Harbor to Memorial Point Trail - 0.5 miles, access to secluded beaches
  • Sand Point Nature Trail - 0.3 miles, handicap-accessible
  • The Tahoe East Shore Trail - 3-mile paved bikeway

Tips For Swimming In Sand Harbor

On its eastern shore of Sand Harbor, Travelers will find the gently sloping beaches, crystal-clear water, and interesting stunning rock formations that make this such an excellent swimming, kayaking, and scuba diving destination. Travelers will likely only want to swim here during the summer months as the water never truly gets warm and isn't comfortable for swimming for a large part of the year. Travelers should follow Sand Harbor safety guidelines, and they should be fine (see field notes).

  • Boating - Closed for 2022 due to low water

Transportation

There are a couple of things travelers should keep in mind when visiting Sand Harbor. The area is incredibly popular and attracts a high number of daily visitors. It is not guaranteed that Sand Harbor will have enough parking on a given day, and with no walk-ins allowed, that can mean being denied entry. Also, travelers shouldn’t plan on using Highway 28 for parking as it is prohibited. To avoid issues, travelers should attempt to arrive before Sand Harbor opens at seven in the morning.

Photography

The amazing views of Lake Tahoe provided by Sand Harbor are a draw to photographers and those just looking for a good Instagram photo too. As long as photos are to be personally used, visitors are welcome to take as many photos as they desire. However, those looking to take photos for commercial use will need to acquire a photography permit first.

Picnicking/Day Use

Sand Harbor provides a scenic picnic area in the shade of cedars and Jeffrey pines. The picnic area is set aside from the beaches to provide a bit of separation between the more hectic beach. Paved walkways make the area handicapped accessible, helping everyone enjoy the pleasure of a picnic.

Sand Harbor provides picnickers with a picnic table and also allows them to bring propane grills and stoves as long as they can be turned on and off. Wood and coal fires are not allowed, and no fires are allowed during a red flag warning issued by the national weather service.

Related: 10 Best Luxury Resorts You Should Book In Lake Tahoe

How To Reach Sand Harbor

Travelers looking to reach Sand Harbor will likely be arriving on a flight into Reno. From there, they will either take US 395 or Virginia Street to Nevada 431. Once travelers have reached Nevada 28, they should turn left on it and follow it into Incline Village. Sand Harbor is just three miles south of Incline Village.

One thing travelers should be wary about is parking. Parking is limited, and due to Sand Harbor’s popularity, the parking lot fills early. They also don’t allow walk-ins, so travelers must arrive by vehicle.